4 more Congress leaders, 12 Apni Party workers pledge support for Azad
Azad fires fresh salvo at his former party
Kathua/Jammu/News Delhi: Four more Congress leaders, including former deputy speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Gulam Hyder Malik, and a dozen prominent workers of the Apni Party resigned from their respective parties on Monday in support of veteran politician Ghulam Nabi Azad.
Azad (73), a former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, ended his five-decade association with the Congress on Friday, saying the party was “comprehensively destroyed” and lashing out at Rahul Gandhi for “demolishing” its entire consultative mechanism.
Malik, a former Congress MLA from Kathua’s Bani, and two former MLCs — Subash Gupta from Kathua and Sham Lal Bhagat from Doda — separately forwarded their resignation letters to the party high-command.
“We have received the letters (of support) from Malik, Gupta and Bhagat,” Azad’s close aide and former minister G M Saroori said.
General Secretary of the Jammu and Kashmir Congress Maheshwar Singh Manhas also resigned from the party in support of Azad.
In a related development, 12 workers of the Apni Party from Doda, including its district president Asgar Hussain Khanday, district general secretary Virender Kumar Sharma and district vice-president (women’s wing) Promila Sharma, resigned from the primary membership of the party and extended their support to Azad, who hails from Bhaderwah town in Doda.
Former Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Tara Chand, former ministers Abdul Majid Wani, Manohar Lal Sharma and Gharu Ram and former MLA Balwan Singh met Azad in Delhi and are likely to announce their loyalty to him on Tuesday after resigning from the Congress, a source said.
Over a dozen prominent Congress leaders, including former ministers and legislators, besides hundreds of Panchayati Raj Institution (PRI) members, municipal corporators and district and block-level leaders have resigned from the party to join Azad, who will soon launch a national-level political outfit from Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, launching a fresh attack on the Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party needs medicines for treating it which are being provided by compounders instead of doctors.
Azad also accused the leadership of not having time for setting the organisation right and alleged that Rahul Gandhi does not have the aptitude or interest in politics.
Speaking to reporters at his residence, Azad who quit the party on Friday last, alleged that the leadership being projected in the party in states is making party members leave instead of uniting them.
He also said that he will not join the BJP as it will not help his politics in Jammu and Kashmir and that he would soon set up a new party there as assembly elections could be announced anytime.
“I can only give my best wishes to the Congress, but the Congress needs medicines more than my wishes. And, these medicines are being provided to the Congress by compounders instead of doctors and there is a need for specialists,” he told reporters.
“The party leadership has no time for setting things right in the party. The Congress is giving such leaders in states and promoting those who are making people quit the organisation rather than uniting them with the party,” Azad also said while attacking the party leadership.
He said the party’s foundation has turned very weak and the organisation can fall anytime and that is why he along with some leaders decided to quit it now.
“There are people who do clerical work in the Congress and do plants against leaders,” he said, while attacking those who have attacked him in the organisation.
“The BJP cannot help me in politics in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP has a separate constituency. Those spreading such misinformation are playing into BJP’s hands and this is Congress propaganda against me,” he said.
On post-poll alliance, Azad said there are other parties also and the new organisation can align with them too.
Continuing his attack on Rahul Gandhi, he said, “It seems he does not have the aptitude for politics, as we tried to make him into a leader and made many efforts in this regard”.
Azad also questioned the DNA of those who questioned him and accused those leaders in the Congress of conspiring and “planting news” against party leaders and thus weakening the organisation.
Hitting back, the Congress accused Azad of indulging in “treachery” and said he was “diminishing himself” further.
“After such a long career, courtesy entirely the party he’s been tasked to slander, by giving interviews indiscriminately, Mr Azad diminishes himself further. What’s he afraid of that he’s justifying his treachery every minute? He can be easily exposed but why stoop to his level,” Congress general secretary communications Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister alleged the Congress party is “sinking down” further everyday and people are quitting the organisation, as they are feeling so frustrated that they are looking an any small alternative.
“We will set up a small unit in Jammu and Kashmir soon,” he said, when asked about his future prospects, clarifying that he has not chalked out his national-level plans yet which will be formulated in the coming days.
He also termed his resignation letter as only a “tip of the iceberg”, indicating that he will continue to attack the organisation. “That was tip of the iceberg”.
Azad also alleged that 90 percent leaders had left the party and only his group was left. He claimed that ex-MLAs and ministers have all come with him and five of the six Congress MLAs in J-K have also joined him, otherwise they would also have left and joined the BJP or others.
Azad had quit the Congress on Friday, ending his five-decade association with the party, terming it comprehensively destroyed and lashing out at Rahul Gandhi for demolishing its entire consultative mechanism.
The Congress, dealing with the fallout of a series of high profile exits, including that of Kapil Sibal and Ashwani Kumar, had attempted to deflect the latest blow by alleging that Azad’s DNA had been “Modi-fied”.
Laying bare the many schisms in the party, Azad had written a five-page no holds barred letter to the Congress president, describing her as a nominal figurehead and alleging that all important decisions are being taken by Rahul Gandhi or rather worse his security guards and PAs”.
Azad, whose resignation from all positions in the party, including its primary membership, comes ahead of crucial organisational elections, had accused the leadership of committing a giant fraud” on the party in the name of “farce and sham” internal polls.
In his scathing criticism of the leadership, particularly Rahul Gandhi, the 73-year-old had termed the former Congress chief a “non-serious individual at the helm”.